More than 4,100 citizens’ signatures within three days have been gathered for an online protest against the construction of ten-storey buildings in the shadow of the Acropolis. Local residents have initiated appeal proceedings to the Council of State, the supreme judicial authority of Greece, against urban planning permissions. Meanwhile, the Hellenic Society for the Environment and Culture (ELLET) is trying to raise public awareness in the particular case. The Ministry of the Environment, responding to the growing waves of protest, has set up a committee to reconsider the current urban planning blueprint – perhaps reducing the floor space index in the region.
Public mobilisation was instigated upon realisation that a building on Faliro Street would exceed by far in terms of height the neighbouring ones. The building -nearing to delivery stage- has reached the 10th floor (33 meters high) using 2,700 square meters. As a result of the survey of residents, the large height of the building was achieved due to a combination of factors. The high floor space index of the area, the large plot (resulting from mergers) and provisions of the New Building Regulation. “But the study of the building did not pass through the Central Archaeological Council (CAC), as it should have,” says architect Irene Frezadou, who launched the mobilization campaign in the area.
Later, in October 2018, the construction of a second ten-storey building was approved at Missaraliotou Street, Makrygianni. Immediately there was a mobilization, which ELLET “embraced” via Athens Historic Center Network.
“Citizens are furious. They see a new wall being created beneath the Acropolis and feel like there is nothing they can do to stop it. The CAC itself, which in other cases had “cut off” the height of buildings in areas near the Acropolis, gave the permission to Missaraliotou,” says Mrs Frezadou. “The roots of the problem are two: from the one hand, the appropriation of the current land and on the other, the building standard regulations in the area around the Acropolis. Makrigiannis is characterized as an “urban center”, so it has a huge floor space index (SD 3,6). In addition, here comes an irrational building regulation and rewards … a “green” roof with more cement “.
Residents of the region began collecting signatures through the AVAAZ online platform (https://secure.avaaz.org/el/community_petitions/_AKROPOLIMAKRYGIANNI_SOS/) where until Wednesday, 4,100 signatures had been gathered. Responding to protest letters, the Ministry of the Environment has set up a Committee to review the buildings standard regulations of the wider area surrounding the Acropolis, and in particular the Makrigianni – Koukaki area. The committee will deliver its contribution in two months. Meanwhile, residents will appeal to the City Council against the building permits of the two buildings.
“It is unacceptable to be allowed the construction of such tall buildings next to the Acropolis,” says ELLET chairman Lydia Karras. “The view of the Acropolis, which dominates Athens, is part of the identity of our people, as well as part of the European heritage. I believe it is in the human nature to make mistakes. Therefore, it would be generous on the part of the Minister of Culture and those responsible for the problem, to recognize this mistake and re-examine the permission of these buildings. “